Jakarta. Indonesia plans to buy bigger boats to allow its coast guards to travel across the ocean, most notably the Natuna Sea, and expand their patrol reach, the government said on Friday.
The plan to buy ocean-going vessels was made after Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto had reportedly bought frigates for the Indonesian Navy from Denmark.
Maritime Affairs and Investment Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that the Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla), which soon becomes the country’s coast guard, will need ships the size of those Danish vessels.
"Mr. Prabowo has bought ocean-going vessels for the Navy from Denmark. They are between 138 meters and 150 meters in length and those frigates can sail across the ocean,” Luhut said at his office in Jakarta.
“After [the appointment of] Bakamla is completed, we want similar vessels as well. Probably not frigates, but we want our coast guard to be capable of sailing the Natuna Sea as well,” Luhut said.
The appointment of Bakamla as coast guard is mentioned in a bill being deliberated by the House of Representatives. The bill seeks to settle overlapping roles in domestic maritime securities. There are multiple institutions in maritime securities including the Bakamla, the Water Police, the Indonesian Navy and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s sea patrols.
The Natuna Sea in Indonesia’s northern maritime borders has come under the government’s attention due to reported illegal fishings by foreign ships at its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. Most recently, an Indonesian warship was in a close encounter with a Chinese coast guard who accompanied several Chinese fishing boats in the area.